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Elephant Festival, Jaipur
The elephant has references in Indian mythology. As goods or Devas
and the demons or Asuras churned the oceans during "sagar manthan"
for the elixir of life that would make them immortal, there surfaced
the "navratnas" - nine jewels. One of these jewels was the
elephant. The elephant is therefore absolutely precious, to be preserved
and protected as jewels are.
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Elephants have always occupied a pride of place among the erstwhile
Rajput rulers. The Rajput rulers' use of elephants in war is legendary.
War aside elephants have been an integral part of Rajasthan's royal
courts and were used in royal parades. As a rule of thumb, a Rajput
king would always ride on elephant.
Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan was a much preferred place for elephant
parades in honor of the royal guests. This grand spectacle of elephant
parade was given a fresh lease of life courtesy Rajasthan Tourism
and every year in the month of March a grand spectacle of impeccably
bedecked and ornamented elephants are paraded in full public glare
at Jaipur's Chaugan Stadium. The spectacular parade is followed by
a bewildering array of special events like playing holi with elephants,
elephant race and the amazing game of elephant polo. It is indeed
party time for the elephants.
The most amazing feature of this colorful festival is that the majority
of the elephants that take part in the festivities are female of the
species. Each elephant is garishly decorated from tusk to tail with
charming jewelry. Their foreheads are embossed with floral decoration.
Although elephants are the main attraction of the festival, to add
charm to the festivities, brightly bejeweled camels and horses with
their masters seated on the saddle also take part in this remarkable
festival. Traditional Rajasthani folk dancers enthrall the audience
by their rhythmic dance.